WASHINGTON – Rep. Spencer Bachus,R-Ala.,has sharply criticized plans to offer an additional child tax credit to lower-income families,which include among its strongest supporters freshman Rep. Artur Davis,D-Ala.
In an interview Monday,Bachus reiterated his opposition to what he called a “new welfare program” during a speech Thursday on the House floor. “It's not an income tax credit to start with….It's basically welfare because you're taking someone else's money and paying them,” Bachus said.
Because these families pay no income taxes,Bachus said it is unjust to offer them the same income tax refunds extended to families who do pay income taxes.
Davis is co-sponsoring House legislation similar to the child tax credit bill that passed the Senate last Thursday but was rejected Tuesday by House Republicans.
“I think that more so than any single event that I've seen happen in the five months now that I've been in the House,this event underscores the intense partisanship of the Republican leadership,” Davis said Tuesday.
Under the $350 billion tax cut President Bush signed May 28,families with incomes of more than $27,000 received an additional $400 tax credit per child for a total of $1,000.
The Senate voted 94-2 Thursday to include families with annual incomes between $10,500 and $27,000 whose credit would have been limited to $600.
Now the focus has swung to the House of Representatives.
Bush's spokesman Ari Fleischer said Monday the president has pledged to sign the bill and called on reluctant House leaders to act quickly.
With mounting pressure from the White House and Senate,House Democrats are demanding action from the Republican leadership.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that House Majority Leader Tom Delay of Texas said House Republicans will not endorse the Senate's bill,but will require the Senate to pass a bigger tax cut before the House will endorse expanding the child tax credit.
“If you want to stimulate the economy,getting $400 to people who are bringing home between $1,000 and $2,000 a month would be very significant,” Davis said. “I think,frankly,that there is significant support within the Republican caucus,and that's why the Republican leadership has been so unwilling to bring it to a vote on the floor.”
Bachus said additional child tax credits for lower-income families are fundamentally unfair. “The other side wants to take tax money,taxpayers' money that was paid in,and pay it back to people who did not pay taxes,” he said on the House floor Thursday.
“The other side is still upset that we cut welfare several years ago. In Alabama,if my colleagues talk to my constituents and say to them that they are going to pay back $2,000 to people who did not pay taxes,with their tax dollars,because they have children,they are going to call that welfare” Bachus said.
Davis said he believes public opinion is on his side.
“The people who need the benefits the most shouldn't be the ones to get cut off,” he said. “I think people all across the economic strata understand that fundamental principle of fairness.”
“The White House yesterday made it clear that it supports addressing this disparity,” Davis said Tuesday. “I think it's very unfortunate that the partisanship in the House has reached the point that a sensible measure that has support from the White House and Republicans in the Senate is being blocked.”
A report issued by Davis and prepared by the minority staff of the House Committee on Government Reform said the child tax credit in the bill passed by the Senate would affect 320,000 to 400,000 additional children across Alabama,including about 69,000 in Davis's poverty-stricken 7th District.
Slightly more families would be included under Davis's proposal because it sets the minimum income limit at $7,500 instead of $10,500. Davis's bill would also give child tax credits to veterans returning from war whose incomes are not taxed.